The Security Council unanimously approved a resolution strengthening and expanding the UN’s mission in Colombia. From the United States to Russia, all are in agreement on the good work done for the peace process in Colombia.
“The Council’s decision today to authorize the expansion of the Mission’s mandate to include the Agreement’s comprehensive rural reform and the ethnic chapter in its verification tasks will enable the Mission to increase its contribution to peace in Colombia,” Carlos Ruiz Massieu, head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, remarked at the meeting after the unanimous adoption of Resolution 2673.
In recent months, there has been an acceleration led by the United Nations of peacekeeping in the Latin American country where, for half a century, the governments in Bogotá had been entangled in armed confrontations with various revolutionary guerilla groups.
The recent and historic election of President Gustavo Petro, a former guerilla fighter, marked an even bigger step towards peace in Colombia. Although just a day before the Security Council meeting a roadside bomb was found near Francia Marquez’s home, the country’s first female and black vice president. Marquez was at the UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday to participate in the important Security Council meeting during which the historical resolution was voted.
We have been following the Security Council’s work on peacekeeping efforts in Colombia. However, outside the chamber following the meeting, we sought reactions to the death of Mario Paciolla, an aid worker for the UN’s mission in Colombia, who was found dead in July of 2020. Reports hastily referred to his death as “suicide”.
When we asked the Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alvaro Leyva about Mario Paciolla, he responded, “I knew about the case, but it was a while ago and I no longer follow it, so I am not able to comment.”
We were then able to ask a few questions to the head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu.
What was your and your mission’s reaction to Paciolla’s family’s disbelief in the reports ascribing his death to suicide? The family has already filed a complaint in Colombia to continue the investigation.
“I have the greatest solidarity with the family as they had the biggest loss, losing their son. For the mission, it was a big blow for a lot of friends, a lot of colleagues. Both authorities (Italian and Colombian) decided there was no information for pursuing further investigation.”
In Italy, however, the GIP has yet to decide the final decision.
“The family has all the right to seek the truth. Obviously, we want them to be convinced that every road and every possibility has been investigated fully.”
How did you and those you work with at the mission react to the claims made by the family and their lawyers, accusing UN officials at the Mission of, at the very least, mismanaging the investigation or even covering up the truth of Mario’s death?
“Obviously the mission is interested in having this clarified. So, if there are any doubts from any parts–in this case the family–they requested an investigation into people from the Mission, and we have been cooperating fully. The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, as he has done before, would immediately lift immunity so that everyone could give necessary information to the authorities. The UN is always cooperating with authorities as much as possible so this case can be clarified. If there is still a need to do it, we will continue to.”
Translated by Ian Udulutch